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Dominick's entire life has been compromised and constricted by anger and fear; by Thomas, the paranoid schizophrenic twin brother he both deeply loves and resents; by their adoptive father, Ray, and their long-suffering mother, Concettina, a timid woman with a harelip that made her shy and self-conscious — she holds a loose fist to her face to cover her defective mouth — her perpetual apology to the world for a birth defect over which she'd had no control.

But Dominick's talent for survival comes at an enormous cost, including the breakup of his marriage and it will be put to the ultimate test when Thomas commits an unthinkable act that threatens the tenuous balance of both his and Dominick's lives.

To save himself, Dominick must confront not only the dark secrets he has locked deep within himself but the sins of his ancestors — a quest that will lead him beyond the confines of his blue-collar New England town to the volcanic foothills of Sicily's Mount Etna, where his ambitious and vengefully proud grandfather and namesake Domennico Tempesta, was born.

Searching for answers, Dominick turns to the pages of his grandfather's handwritten memoir. Rendered with touches of magic realism, Domenico's fable-like tale — in which monkeys enchant and religious statues weep — becomes the old man's confession. Through this grandfather's life, Dominick learns that power, wrongly used, defeats the oppressor as well as the oppressed, and now, picking through the humble shards of his deconstructed life, he will search for the courage and love to forgive, to expiate his and his ancestors' transgressions, and finally to rebuild himself beyond the haunted shadow of his twin.

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